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The Antelope

The Antelope

Lopers facing high-powered Washburn offensive attack

Tre O’Guinn looks for the spot after a goal-line stop. Photo provided by Nate Lilla / Antelope Staff

After suffering its first loss, UNK has another challenging task this upcoming week against Washburn. The Ichabods come into the game 2-0 and received the most votes of any unranked team in the AFCA Coaches Poll this week. 

The Lopers are trying to rebound after losing on a last-minute touchdown pass against Pittsburg State.

“There’s a lot of football to be played,” said UNK football coach Josh Lynn. “We’ve got a good football team. Pittsburg State was a good football team, and we have another great football team this week to get ready for.”

Washburn comes in with a high-powered passing attack that features sixth-year receiver James Letcher Jr. The receiver from Kansas City has posted eight catches for 206 yards and three touchdowns this season.

“He’s probably one of the most explosive kids in the conference,” Lynn said. “We have to do something to slow him down.”

Washburn also features Collin Wilson and Peter Afful in its passing attack. Both receivers have over 100 yards catching the ball this year. 

Letcher Jr. has been catching passes from first-year starting quarterback Kellen Simoncic. Mitch Schurig started 11 games at quarterback for the Ichabods last season and is now a member of the staff as an assistant coach. His father, Craig Schurig, is the head coach for Washburn.

The Loper coaching staff has been impressed with Simoncic in his first two games.

“He throws the ball downfield really, really well,” Lynn said. “He takes what the defense gives him, but his deep ball is as good as anybody in the conference.”

Simoncic has thrown for 609 yards and nine touchdowns this year. He also threw three interceptions against Central Missouri. 

Washburn returns all five starters on its offensive line, which has helped starting running back Taylon Peters average 4.2 yards per carry.. Backup running back Tyler Bowden has rushed for two touchdowns this year on seven attempts. Senior running back Hunter Browning has also rushed for 72 yards. 

Washburn’s defense played tough in the opener, only allowing three points against Lincoln University. Central Missouri had more success against the Ichabods, scoring 32 points.

“They have a lot of depth,” Lynn said. “They play a lot of different guys. They will be one of the most physical defenses we play and they’re very well coached.”

The Washburn defense has been led by linebacker Grant Bruner. The Gretna, Nebraska product has 33 total tackles, with 18 solo tackles and two interceptions.

Following the loss to Pittsburg State, every game is now crucial for the Lopers to fulfill the goals they want to accomplish this season.

“It’s a big game,” Lynn said. “They’re all big though. We have to go out and perform and take it one day at a time here.”

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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